A stellar cast, including Glenn Close and Lindsay Lohan, contribute to somewhat enlightening doc
Half a century after her death, Marilyn Monroe remains a potent source of fascination, speculation and myth-making. More than 1000 books have been published about her, covering familiar material from the mystery surrounding her death to the question of whether she was the canny architect of her own public image or the dumb blonde archetype that Hollywood never failed to exploit.
Liz Garbus' documentary hybrid promises a little something different. Using a recently discovered horde of personal papers, it tells the Monroe story with a mixture of well-chosen archive interviews (Jack Lemmon, Arthur Miller, Laurence Olivier, Billy Wilder etc) and staged readings of her journals, diaries and correspondence by a stellar (although sometimes surprisingly stilted) cast that includes Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Marisa Tomei, Jennifer Ehle, Lindsay Lohan and Uma Thurman.
The film goes some way to giving Marilyn a voice in her own story. The diaries and journals reveal a woman desperate to make something of herself; to read more, work harder, become a better performer. They are also heartbreaking in the sense of loneliness, insecurity and unhappiness that is conveyed. Marilyn's life is largely one of great gloom and despondency with only warming bursts of sunshine in the brief hope of her marriages to Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio or the belief that she had found her acting guru and mentor in Lee Strasberg.
Although a little mannered in places, Love, Marilyn comes vividly alive in some of the readings with Oliver Platt on fine form reading Billy Wilder's letters and Jeremy Piven enjoying himself as a chatty Elia Kazan. It doesn't provide blinding new insight into Monroe's life but it is filled with less familiar newsreel footage and decent movie clips and has some brief, invaluable glimpses of a troubled inner life.
Limited release from Fri 18 Oct.